December 2006 Newsletter

A day with Stuart Mortimer
Stuart started his day with a short talk about what he does and the tools he uses, some can be dangerous. His first was a “quick and simple” twist. He reduced a square piece to round with a skew and left a small section of square as a register for marking out. Next he bored the middle out using a spindle gouge made to his design with a shorter flute than usual and ground sort of fingernail profile with a more rounded end. (Got it?) He drew equidistant lines round the circumference and parallel lines along the length to give him a grid to draw the twist that he was going to cut. To highlight the peaks and troughs he suggested using two colours, one to cut along and one to leave. There are various ways to cut the twist and first he cut a guide line with a tenon saw and then
1- used a gouge,
2– used a microplane and
3– an Arbotec cutter which is something that fingers should definitely not come into contact with!! With care he took cuts until he broke through to the bore. The rest was handwork with a palm plane and long strips of sandpaper starting with 60 grit. He stopped here but would normally go through all the grits to get a good finish.

At this point we stopped and Stuart judged the entries for the November certificate. He felt all the work was of a high standard and some was up to national level and could/should be exhibited at that level. He finally chose David Ward’s carved bowl as the winning piece and a silver birch bowl by Tony Handford for the runner up.

Back to his demonstration and Stuart set up a sycamore log between centres and turned a spigot to hold it in the chuck with. Transferred to the chuck it was ready for shaping to an egg shaped vase. The next operation was to mark the grid for the bines, 13 around the circumference and 12 along the length, then start the cuts using the Arbotec. The first cuts were all cut to the same depth, about 3/8” and then every third cut was redone to about 1/2” . The cuts were sanded before hollowing began because when hollow the piece is weaker and more likely to break. Then comes the hollowing using the special gouges. This is where the reason for the deeper cuts becomes obvious. Stuart was hollowing quite vigorously until he broke through to these, giving him an indication that he had almost reached the required wall thickness and it was time to take more gentle cuts, carrying on until all the slots were open. A few more cuts were made and the slots re-cut towards either end to make them all equal in length. The ends were also cut to give a slight ‘S’ shape to the slots to make the shape more interesting. Finishing was the same as for the simple twist.

The next piece made was a thin walled, egg, shaped hollow form. Stuart chose another piece of sycamore, (have you ever noticed how demonstrators always use timber that is kind to the turner?). He turned the outside to a beautiful egg shape and then bored it out with his special gouges to a thickness of about 1/4” using a Stewart system scraper to give a shear cut to the inside of the wall. The outside was then taken down with a spindle gouge and a skew chisel. He wanted this to be thin and to help gauge the thickness he put a light, held in the tailstock, inside the neck of the vase. The more cuts taken the brighter the light shone through. We all thought he had gone far enough but he kept us on the edge of our seats as he took more cuts, the light getting even brighter. I think it ended up about 3mm thick!!
To sand this piece he wrapped some sandpaper round a stick for the inside and at the same time held a large piece in his hand on the outside. This did two things. Sanding, to improve the finish, and by using a lot of force (at one point he nearly stalled the lathe) he was heating the piece up to a point where steam came off, so taking the moisture out. Ladies and gentlemen, kiln drying is now officially redundant!!

His last pieces of the day was to show us how a curly tail lid is made using the same principal but a long pitch on the circumference and an off centre “thingy” which can make an interesting talking piece.

That’s it for Stuart.

On to other things.

Our next meeting is on Sat 9th December. Louise Hutton had been booked but she has let us down. Bert has persuaded Peter Blake to stand in for the day.

There are a few more days for those coming to the Christmas dinner to finish your entries for the Orchard Memorial trophy. Don’t forget that it must NOT be anything that has been exhibited before.
A photograph of the trophy is in the November Gallery.

This trophy is not to be confused with the Bill Alston trophy which will be presented at the AGM to the person with most “firsts” at the monthly meetings.



Membership for 2007 Your membership renewal form is enclosed and happily the fee remains at £12.50, £18 for joint membership. I would like these in as soon as possible please, but at the latest by the January meeting/AGM which will be on the 13th January 2007. I can then produce the Members Directory for distribution in February. Those of you who prefer to pay in cash can pay at the next meeting or at the AGM. Many thanks.